Night of the Dead: Leben Tod (Eric Forsberg, 2006)
[note: review originally published 4Sep2010]
While SyFy spinoff ChillerTV does show its share of surprisingly decent flicks (many Americans got their first taste of the 2006 Canadian indie End of the Line on Chiller last week, as I write this; I gave it a relatively favorable review back in May of 2009), I am starting to develop a rule of thumb: if even I, a connoisseur of really bad horror movies, have never heard of it before it hits ChillerTV, then there’s probably a reason for that. The most recent movie of this vintage that I have forced myself to suffer through so you don’t have to is Night of the Dead: Leben Tod, from writer/director Eric Forsberg, who would go on to write what was supposed to be the Snakes on a Plane sequel, Snakes on a Train. If you saw that mess, you probably have some idea of what you’re in for here, but Night of the Dead is even worse.
Plot: Gabriel Schreklich (Hillside Cannibals‘ Louis Graham), a researcher studying reanimation (the first scene, in which he experiments on a frog, is by far the movie’s funniest, though whether that was intentional I can’t tell you), loses his wife (Deirdre V. Lyons, a Forsberg regular) and daughter (Lola Forsberg, another… wait, you already guessed that) to a hit-and-run driver.
And here I need to pause the plot synopsis one sentence in, because this should be the first place you stop in this movie and say “what the hell were these people thinking?”, and we’re only three minutes into the movie. First off, the guy is coming out of his own driveway, so honestly, how fast can he have been going? Secondly, he’s coming out of his own driveway. This town has the world’s. dumbest. cops. No lie.
In any case, being that he’s researching reanimation, you know where this is going. In any case, fast-forward a year, and Schreklich (oh, very symbolic name there) has enlisted his nephew Peter (Copperhead‘s Gabriel Womack), an intern, as his research assistant, but Peter doesn’t quite have all the details. Also working with him in his private clinic are the actual intern, Gunther (The Hills Have Eyes II‘s David Reynolds), more muscleman than medical professional, and a couple of cute, if kind of ominous-looking, nurses. Also in attendance, aside form the patients, is Peter’s pregnant wife Anais (Joey Jalalian of Return with Honor). While the clinic is private, a family suddenly bursts in with their hemorrhaging daughter, since it was closer than the hospital. The nurses try to shoo them off, but Schreklich (whom I will refer to as “the Doctor” from now on, because that’s a pain to type) welcomes them with open arms, trying to save the daughter (Scarlet Garcia, best-known as a contestant on the thankfully short-lived Beauty and the Geek) with massive transfusions from dad (Still Waiting…‘s Paul Morquecho). When that doesn’t work, he has the nurse grab him a vial of Serum #8. You know where this is going (again). While dad looks dead, the Doctor assures his wife that dad will be okay and wheels him into another room… the morgue. Yeah, something’s wrong with this picture. It gets a lot wronger when daughter wakes up hungry and starts taking chunks out of mom while the Doctor and Gunther are off in the lab reanimating bits of dad. And you know what? Things go downhill from there.
I will say that your mileage may vary, widely, with this movie; if you assume that Forsberg was playing it for laughs, you might enjoy it a lot more than I did. There’s certainly evidence to that effect; the opening scene may have been intentionally hysterical, though I didn’t get that vibe from it, and the scene where the Doctor finally lets Peter in on all his secrets is amazingly funny. “What is this?” “My mistakes.” The tone of the Doctor’s voice when he says “My mistakes” is just about perfect. If only I could believe that comic timing was intentional, I’d be recommending this movie until the cows come home, but there’s way too much else in here that says Forsberg was playing it straight—most notably the scenes where Gunther, one of the nurses, and/or Anais is following Carolina (the daughter from the transfusion scene, who gets loose in the clinic right after chomping down on mom) look like they’re supposed to be inspiring suspense, but that sort of thing was done so much better in…well, every place else you’ve ever seen it. And that’s synecdochic of the entire movie, really. I’m sure someone could make a great drinking game out of this flick, but for me to try, I’d have to watch it again. And that I do not intend to do. *